The tour will begin with a steep climb to the Monastery of Osios Patapios located atop Geraneia Mountain over the Gulf of Corinth.
The Monastery of Osios Patapios
The Monastery of Osios Patapios is situated on the Gerania Mountain, at an altitude of 2,300 feet (700m) above the Gulf of Corinth. The views of Loutraki and the deep blue sea of the Gulf of Corinth, stretching all the way to ancient Corinth, are magnificent.
The monastery features an enchanting courtyard, dominated by the Chapel of the Virgin Mary of Egypt, with its magnificent carved chandelier and beautiful wall paintings.
Tucked away, hewn out of the mountain, is a tiny cave containing the remains and relics of Saint Patapios. Saint Patapios was born in Egypt in the 4th century AD and later lived in Byzantium where he built the Monastery of the Egyptians. After Byzantium was conquered by the Ottomans his relics were brought to Greece and placed in the cave and the monastery was built in his honor.
Hanging from the ceiling are oil lamps and incense burners. Beautiful murals (protected under glass) from the 13th century cover the walls. The relics of Osios Patapios are displayed in a glass-sided coffin at the back of the cave.
Blue Lake (Lake Vouliagmeni)
After leaving the Monastery of Osios Patapios, narrow winding roads lead past the small picturesque village of Perahora, through acres of olive groves. Rounding a tight bend, you will see a sliver of shining blue from between the silver grey of the olive trees – Blue Lake, known to the locals as Vouliagmeni, meaning “submerged” or “flowing from below”. Many years ago, a powerful earthquake caused a break in the rocks, allowing the sea to rush in and swallow the village that had been there.
Along the lakeside are cafés, restaurants, and tavernas, some with tables set up at the edge of the water in the shade of olive or pine trees. The tavernas offer delicious locally caught seafood. The fresh Greek salads are dressed with olive oil, usually produced from the owners’ own trees.
At the point where the sea flows into the lake is a small Greek whitewashed church with a sky-blue dome.
Heraion of Perahora: Sanctuary of Hera
Leaving the sparkling Blue Lake behind, we head to Heraion of Perahora, an important archaeological site excavated by Humfry Payne, from the British School of Archaeology in Athens. The ancient Sanctuary of Hera, dedicated to the goddess Hera, powerful queen of the Olympian gods and wife (and sister) of Zeus. Hera was the supreme goddess patron of marriage and childbirth, the protector of married women. Hera was known for her beauty, which is said was renewed every year in spring when she washed away the traces stress and worry of the previous year. The sanctuary is situated in a magnificent setting, on the Cape of Malagavi, in the area of Perahora, which means “the land beyond the sea”.
Part of the ruins are thought to be a rooms and dining area, which used to accommodate pilgrims who came to consult the oracle. Ruins of cisterns and bathing pools show how ancient Greeks collected and stored water. Legend has it that Medea murdered and buried her children here when fleeing from Corinth. Medea was the granddaughter of the sun god, Helios, and the legend says she murdered her children revenging her husband’s betrayal with Glauce, the daughter of Ceron, King of Corinth.
The site is located on two levels with paths leading down to both. Descending from one level to the other, you pass through the courtyard of the picturesque Church of Saint John, arriving at the small ancient harbor where under the crystal clear waters there still remain more ruins.
Cult activity continued here from 900 BC to 146 BC when the Romans destroyed Heraion.
We end the trip at the edge of the cliff, at the Malagavi Lighthouse, which was built 150 years ago and is still active. The site is one of the most beautiful vantage points in Greece from which to view the meeting of the sea, bay, and mountain.
A short way above the ancient ruins of the Sanctuary of Hera, at the very tip of Cape Gerania, proudly stands the Malagavi Lighthouse, one of the oldest stone lighthouses in Greece. Built in 1879, it is still working.
Looking down there is sparkling sea all around, dotted with sailboats. Olive trees are scattered along the rocky terrain. The sea merges with the sky on the horizon. Sometimes, depending on the weather and the time of day, it is difficult to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins.
Pure and natural. Greek beauty.